Kue Sang Chun, 67, pleaded guilty earlier this year to exporting defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List without obtaining an export license and filing a false tax return.
“This defendant violated important regulations designed to protect national security,” U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Seven Dettelbach said in a news release. “He did it for money and intentionally failed to pay taxes on the money he made from his crimes.”
According to court documents filed by Dettelbach’s office, a South Korean defense contractor applied for export licenses several times between 1999 and 2007 to bring the components — infrared focal plane array detectors and infrared camera engines — to South Korea, but those requests were denied in the name of national security.
The contractor then contacted Chun, who had worked as a consultant for South Korean defense firms, and asked that he obtain the components and ship them to South Korea, which he did between 2000 and 2005, the release said.
To obtain a 2004 shipment, Chun lied to the manufacturer, telling them that the components were for a NASA contractor building imaging systems for space missions, the documents said.
In 2005, Chun, who worked at NASA Glenn Research Center, again lied to a manufacturer when seeking components, telling them the technology was for use by NASA in wind tunnels or to be tested for a Federal Aviation Administrations hazardous weather program.
In both instances, the documents said, Chun knew he would be illegally shipping the components to South Korea.
After he pleaded guilty, Chun sent letters to the South Korean company for which he obtained the components and demanded compensation of $1 million, reimbursement for legal fees and a job after he had completed serving his sentence in the case.
In a sentencing memorandum prepared on behalf of his client, Chun’s lawyer, David Doughton, wrote that his client wasn’t shipping actual munitions or weapons of mass destruction.
Instead, Doughton wrote, Chun, a naturalized U.S. citizen, sent components that have both civilian and military uses to an ally.
“These devices were exported by Chun to South Korea, a strategic ally of the United States, to a company involved in the South Korean defense industry working on a specific project on behalf of the South Korean government,” Doughton wrote. “Chun did not deliver devices to unknown individuals or entities, but a single entity working with the South Korean government to protect South Korea’s interests, and in turn the United States’ interests in the Asia-Pacific region.”
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